Yakkity Yak


You talk too much

 You even worry my pet

You just talk…

 Talk too much

      Joe Jones

What a nice day to go flying! I had spent an hour or so committing flagrant acts of aviation with my rag-wing Cessna 140, and after the obligatory three touch-and-goes, I parked it next to my friend’s hangar. You know, the one with the Cub.

He was working on getting his Cub “up to snuff,” as we used to say back during the Victorian Age, and I found him polishing that little faux spinner thing on the front of the propeller.

We barely had time to get our diet sodas out of his fridge and plant our butts into our lawn chairs when I thought I heard the sound of huffing approaching from the flight school ramp.

Yes, I could hear audible huffing, and it was coming from a young man who was clearly in a huff. It was Bert, one of the local flight instructors. He had the earnest look of someone trying to convince you to become a Hari Krishna or buy a timeshare.

“Were you the guy flying the Cessna 120?” he huffed.

No, I said.

“Do you know who flew this thing in the pattern?” he continued to huff as he pointed at my plane.

Yes, that was me, flying my Cessna 140, I said. You might want to check out an aircraft identification book at your library. As you can see, my aircraft has flaps, which is a sure sign that it is not a 120, although 120s are awesome.

He looked chagrinned, and I thought he might be the kind of guy who calls himself a “Certified Flight Instructor.”

Of course, there is no such thing as a Certified Flight Instructor. Look it up, I’ll wait. See? What he and every other CFI on or buried beneath the soil of this planet was and is is a “Certificated Flight Instructor.” This means that he holds a certificate. 

Nobody certified him or any other CFI to do anything.

Name-calling aside, I asked what had gotten that raspberry seed caught behind his wisdom tooth. You’ve got to sit down and have a drink, I said. Your sunglasses are getting all sweaty.

He grudgingly sat on the chair provided and began straightening me out.

“I saw you fly your plane for multiple landings while I was flying in the same pattern with my student and you did not make any of the required radio calls. Not one!”

Well, he had me there. I guess not making imaginary required radio calls is a bad thing, but I was curious about which VFR traffic pattern calls I missed.

“You know,” he said. “We are required to make a radio call on Unicom when we are in the pattern saying when we are upwind, crosswind, downwind, final, and taxiing to the ramp.”

Now I see what he was angry about. He was suffering from being a reasonably new CFI. That malady is serious and can make a person think that they know everything and are commanded to share it with a disinterested world.

You must be talking about the VFR traffic requirements listed in section 7-6 of the publication FAA-H-8083-38?

Blank stare from Bert.

Yes, that’s the one, I continued. It does say those are nice to make calls, and the passage infers that the calls are mandatory, but I assure you, my pimply-faced friend, that they are recommended but not required.

This recommendation to fill the airwaves with the dulcet tones of confused and frightened students and instructors has led to a fog of radio chatter that I find off-putting and sometimes dangerous.

As a Certificated Flight Instructor, I know that all of those radio calls might be good practice for students who fear talking on the radio. Still, it takes a primary student’s attention away from flying the aircraft when it is low and slow on base and final.

I personally teach that a call on downwind is fine and efficacious while blurting out every position and feeling you have while you zoom about the pattern is, in the words of Captain Hook from Peter Pan, “bad form.”

Bert was going to give one more shot at regaining the high ground.

“Even with all you said, you should have at least called on the downwind on every touch and go, and don’t even get me started on what a bad idea touch and goes are!”

With a friendly gesture, I walked over to my 140 and invited Bert to look into the cockpit, where he saw a hole where my Nav/Com used to be.

Yep, I said that radio has been out for overhaul for a week now. I’m expecting it back soon, and when it arrives, we can talk to each other like kids under a blanket tent at a slumber party when we aviate. For now, though, I added, since we are flying out of an uncontrolled airport, I think I’ll keep flying until it arrives if it is OK with you.

Please stop by anytime, but please call us on the radio first! 

Kevin Garrison
Kevin Garrison is a former airline captain who continues to spread his wisdom of the ages as an airport bum. He shares his thoughts twice a month.


  1. Poor Bert… probably thinks the departure leg and the upwind are the same thing.

    Capt. Garrison, it’s nice to have you back!

  2. Never confuse your Italians: Airplanes fly by Bernoulli, not Marconi.

    (Actually, Bernoulli was Swiss, but it ruins the joke….)

  3. There’s a fine line between not enough radio calls and too many. Sadly, everyone has their own idea where that line is.

    • I too dislike the term “uncontrolled.” It implies there is no control of traffic when it absolutely IS (or should be) controlled. Sadly, the term “uncontrolled airport” appears 20+ times (I counted) in the AIM.

    • It depends. Class G airspace is uncontrolled. Class E is controlled. Is your nontowered airport in controlled airspace or not?

  4. I fly NORDO all the time. They even have a NORDO procedure for Oshkosh Airventure arrivals which while well designed, might be pushing things. It was but a few decades ago that most GA aircraft were NORDO. But they knew how to use their eyes. The standard traffic pattern and procedure was in fact designed to be safe for visual-only aircraft for pilot-controlled airport operations. And it worked great back when straight in finals and other such nonsense was rare. Pilot controlled does not mean separation by use of VHF communication. But rather visual separation. After that it’s nice but not necessary to have coms as a supplement. And I maintain tying up the CTAF with calls about taxiing to the gas pumps, starting the engine or other such ground fluff is dangerous since aircraft in the air will have to wait for that banter to cease before they can call out a conflicting traffic issue or worse.

  5. I do teach my students ‘proper’ radio calls at our Class E airport, but on nice quiet summer evenings when there isn’t another aircraft within 20 miles (yes, that happens frequently), it’s nice to fly quietly and just listen. I must admit it makes me feel a bit naughty…

    • Good point. Except if there are another five of the same, not talking and assuming there’s nobody there. Until they meet.

  6. We sometimes have similar discussions at our airport. I can now quote the chapter and maybe verse to offput the “Certified” flight instructors that seem to know everything about anything in flying. Thanks for that.

  7. Amazing what can be learned by listening more and talking less. I’m done with “Last call” (who cares?), “On the go” (you already announced you were planning a touch and go) and my personal favorite, “Any traffic in the area please advise.” At least the FAA weighed in on that one……

  8. Not required doesn’t mean it isn’t a good thing to do. A decent portable one is cheaper than an hour of flying and position reports significantly improve situational awareness, especially when you add jet traffic into the mix with those fun to fly, but much slower C140s and Cubs. If taking 3 seconds to say “Smalltown traffic Cessna 123AB left downwind runway 23” is too distracting, imagine the much bigger distraction of suddenly seeing a jet pass 500’ above and to your right (assuming both pilots were flying decent patterns).

    When I rode motorcycles I assumed every other driver was out to kill me. I often had people say that as long as I had right of way I’d win my lawsuit. I replied that my wife might win the suit because I’d be dead. Simple defensive measures aren’t a burden or a distraction. They’re smart and respectful.

    Do we really need to wait for a couple of fatal accidents and a mandatory radio rule to do the right thing?

    • 100.000% agree.
      yes NORDO is legal in non-controlled airport and people should understand that. But making it easier for anyone to spot where you are is the SMART thing to do, and telling people where I am in close quarters is smart. Just like having all lights on.

      I understand the humor but the comments surprise me. Philip Ross’s response is similar – I did the same when I was riding motorcycles. Simple defensive measures are pilot’s best friend!

    • “I often had people say that as long as I had right of way I’d win my lawsuit.” I believe when people continue walking behind a car that is obviously backing out a parking lot space they’re thing the same thing. But will it hurt any less?

    • There was a fatal mid-air just a year ago between a NORDO seaplane and a 172 in the traffic pattern at Winter Haven. Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

      Kevin’s article shows a shocking lack of regard for safety. Yes, the CFI was wrong. There are no “required” radio calls. And excessive radio calls are annoying. But that’s no excuse to fly without a radio “just because I can.” Kevin was also wrong.
      I’m sick of hearing old, curmudgeonly pilots say, “just look outside!” We know that ‘see and avoid’ doesn’t work. There are too many blind spots, too many places to look, and airplanes are too fast.
      I know that Cubs and Champs don’t have electrical systems. But portable radios aren’t expensive. Four people in Winter Haven are dead, for want of a $100 radio. And they’re only the latest. How many others?

  9. The real problem is NOLO pilots. [NO Look Outside] I fly at a non-towered airport that can get somewhat busy, and the local flight school has their students and pilots talk before and after every taxiway crossing and everywhere in the pattern. It is constant chatter. But from the number of times I have been cut off, it is apparent they are not good at looking out. I am worried that these days they only look at their ADS screen. Although I carry a handheld in my Champ, and listen to all, i try to make only the basic calls, as we did in the 1970’s. Of course, the flight school 7AC Champs that I learned in did not have radios, and we all learned to fly standard patterns and keep our heads swiveling.

  10. You folks are missing out on the entertainment. Before our little airport closed, CTAF got regular reports crosswind, downwind, base & final to runway 38! (from a licensed private pilot)

  11. Concise radio work is a blessing. NORDO happens. Even at Towered airports.

    We had a huffing C-FI at our airport who demonstrated his skill after a busy day of banner flying. He decided the banner pilot was dangerous when he landed his military surplus airplane on the grass runway after the last drop of the day next to the flight school.

    As we were pushing the airplane into the hangar, the certified flight instructor and leader of the pack walked over to the pilot, a military surplus pilot with incredible experience flying over hostile countries at very high altitude which was unknown to the CFI who had been around for years and knew everything about everything.

    The lecture began with how dangerous it was to fly and land behind the power curve to make the approach end taxiway to the hangar and how it was going to get us killed. Without batting an eye, my friend reached into the cockpit and pulled the AFM, adjusted his bifocals and said, “Well, boys, I’m just trying to fly the airplane by the book.” He flipped to the Red ops limitations page and quoted, “‘This airplane shall not be operated continuously at speeds below 25 miles per hour.’ Boys, I know I flew this airplane faster than 25 miles per hour at least once during that flight.” He closed the book, put it back in the airplane. Nothing more was said. CFI facial expression: Priceless.

  12. SPOT ON! At our “uncontrolled” airport, we have “Certified” Flight Instructors proudly “announcing”–“taxiing from the ramp via parallel taxiway to runway 17″–holding short of runway 23”–“crossing runway 23”–“clear of runway 23”–“holding short of runway 17”–“in position and hold runway 17”–“departing runway 17″–then calls on crosswind, downwind, base, and final.”

    To make matters worse, they use “words twice”–“XXXXXXX traffic–Cessna XXXX downwind runway 17–XXXXXXX traffic.” That means that in a 5 minute circuit of the pattern, they are on the radio for nearly half the time. One wonders how the student LEARNS anything about flying the aircraft!

    The answer came to me when I discovered that it was the INSTRUCTOR making all of the radio calls–not the STUDENT. I’ve pointed out that when there are multiple aircraft in the pattern, there is hardly a time for anyone new to the fray to chime in with their own position and intentions–and having the instructor making the radio calls doesn’t teach the student anything. To make matters even WORSE–these chatterboxes seem to forget that VHF radio is “line of sight”–and can be heard on the ground over 20 miles away–and perhaps 50 miles away by an aircraft at a different airport at traffic pattern altitudes. As a result, many uncontrolled airports turn down or turn off the Unicom to reduce the cacophony–“a harsh discordant mixture of sounds…”

    I even have a framed quote of the “Aircraft fly because of Bernoulli, not Marconi” on the wall next to the Unicom–but the best one yet was a young “Certified” Flight Instructor asking “Who are THOSE guys!

    Alongside that framed quote is another sign–“The FCC does not issue pilot certificates–the FAA does….”

  13. I’m based out of an untowered airport nested near three controlled fields with flight-training operations. We’ve had cases where instructors from these fields felt that all the radio calls interfered with instructing their student, and the flight school’s policy was to SHUT DOWN the radio when operating in our pattern.

    Our airport board sent them a letter asking them not to do that. Their defense was that the use of the radio wasn’t required by regulation….

  14. While it first appeared that this editorial was about radio etiquette, I believe what looms behind it is the bigger picture of young, inexperienced pilots being allowed to teach new pilots. While there have always been young CFIs, today’s are different that those of old because of who has trained them, and in today’s world that is usually another young CFI. In fact, if one examines the current crop of CFIs, how far back would one have to go to find an experienced pilot?

    Used to be that CFIs were older, often seen wearing their official uniform which consisted of a checked shirt, possibly a trucker hat, and preferably suspenders. Yes, old guys. My first CFI was retired USAF, flew B17s during the big one, and every jet fighter Uncle Sam had to offer, up until his retirement. I flew with a couple younger CFIs here and there, but my instrument, commercial, CFIs, and ATP instructors were all very experienced, seasoned, professionals. In short, I received some of the finest training I could ever have imagined, and during the two years I spent as a young CFI I’d like to believe that I passed on some of their wisdom and knowledge.

    But today it appears to be different, with young CFIs all over Instagram, Facebook and YouTube touting their abilities, reciting the AIM/FARs chapter and verse, yet to use a phrase from my father, they’re so smart, they’re dumb.

    My local airport, like many these days, is busy with training aircraft clogging the pattern. Large traffic patterns, stop and goes, and even taxi backs occur when aircraft are waiting to depart, and there is the general air of superiority and lack of consideration we so often see with the current generation. To make matters worse, there’s the poor radio etiquette. Taxiing from the hangars to the fuel pumps, taxiing from the fuel pumps to the runway, departing, upwind, crosswind, downwind, base, final, on the go. And then there’s the radio checks. Somehow, somewhere, it started to become the norm that perhaps the radio doesn’t work and we need to check it. When did this start? My biggest peeve however is the saying of “traffic” at the end of any radio transmission. Again, when did this become a thing? It serves no purpose. And, when called out on some of these poor techniques, we are often met with the typical attitude of “why does it bother you” or, “well I guess we found your trigger” that is so common in today’s society. Why does it bother me? Because it’s wrong, that’s why.

    As long as young CFIs create young CFIs, who create young CFIs, and so on, bad habits and poor techniques will continue. Thanks to the pilot shortage there seems to be a huge void in aviation, that being the checked shirt, trucker hatted, suspender wearing old CFIs who have forgotten more about flying than most of us will ever know. And that’s a shame. Hey, can I get a radio check?

    • “Hey, can I get a radio check?”

      Just check about halfway between your microphone and your antenna; you’re bound to find it.

  15. Let folks know that you’re in the vicinity, the shut up, look and listen until it’s needed to clarify something.

  16. With all due respect to Joe Jones and the 1960 origin of the song, I thought sure you were quoting Run DMC’s 1985 “You Talk to Much”:

    You talk too much You never shut up
    You talk about people, you don’t even know
    And you talk about places, you NEVER go
    You talk about your girl, from head to toe
    I said your mouth’s moving fast, and your brain’s moving slow

    So that’s the Gen X version. I wonder what the Millennial one is…

  17. And since we’re doing song lyrics, here, from the 80s band Talk Talk, is the chorus from their appropriately titles one, Talk Talk.

    All you do to me is talk, talk
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk
    Talk, talk, talk, talk
    All you do to me is talk, talk

  18. Very busy non-towered private airports, with and without comm, are like lake boat ramps at the end of a hot day with an approaching thunderstorm 2 miles off. Undisciplined.
    In my humble opinion, there is way too much talk about stuff that does not matter, and way too little talk about stuff that does.

  19. I started flying in 1966, right in the thick of things at KTOA in Southern California. Back then, that place was hopping with over 340,000 operations a year! There were 4 or 5 flight schools giving way to conga lines to the two runways runup areas leading to more than 14 aircraft in the pattern at once. Those were the days of limited headsets – some trainers only had speakers blasting instructions from the ceiling! Learning radio communication involved a lot of hand signals, facial expressions, and CFIs yelling over the engine. Let me tell you, it was an experience! Time flies (pun intended!), and I went from student to CFI myself.

    My flight instructor were a colorful bunch: a WWII P-51 pilot, a recently retired LAPD officer with a ticker (heart) that liked to act up, a displaced Palestinian, and even a Cajun from Louisiana. Talk about learning to communicate in a hurry – especially in the busy LA basin airspace!

    Fast forward a few decades, and I found myself at a non-towered airport in the lower desert, KTRM. There, the “entertainment” wasn’t just limited to the usual chatter on toasty summers. Oh no, we had a bonus – a perpetually bleeding frequency from a local radio station. Let’s just say, it added a certain… intrigue to recommended radio communication. Looking back, those early days were wild, and honestly, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Maybe I should have offered my first 100 students a discount for the privilege of me leaning how to instruct on their wallet!

    Now, this whole experience with limited radio communication in training got me thinking about the topic and since I used the Sportys “Learn to Fly” online program I extracted transcripts of their lessons on VFR Radio Communications and compared context to the humorous write up using AI.

    Contradictions Between (#1) “Yakkity Yak” and (#2) Sportys on VFR Communications.

    #1 and #2 present very different viewpoints on VFR communication, particularly at uncontrolled airports. Here’s a breakdown of the contradictions:

    Mandatory vs. Recommended Calls:
    • #1: Claims VFR traffic pattern calls (upwind, crosswind, downwind, final) are not required and can be a nuisance.
    • #2: Clearly states these calls are recommended for improved safety and situational awareness, especially for student pilots.

    Radio Usage:
    • #1: The narrator portrays himself as a seasoned pilot who disregards radio calls due to a non-functional radio.
    • #2: Emphasizes the importance of radio usage for listening to traffic advisories and making your intentions known, even at uncontrolled airports.

    Overall Tone:
    • #1: Presents a somewhat arrogant and dismissive tone towards proper VFR communication procedures.
    • #2: Takes a more informative and safety-oriented approach, outlining best practices for VFR communication at non-towered airports.

    In conclusion, according to Gemini, the massive dataset of text and code language model, #1, Yakkity Yak, humorously downplays the importance of VFR communications, while #2, Sportys, serves as a guide for proper radio usage and etiquette at uncontrolled airports. Any traffic in the area, please advise!🧑‍✈️😊

  20. It’s amazing how such an innocuous topic as traffic pattern radio etiquette can generate so much consternation.

    • In essence, my dear Tom, the seemingly innocuous topic of traffic pattern radio etiquette serves as a microcosm of the complexities inherent in human interaction. By engaging in respectful and open dialogue, we can navigate these complexities with grace and understanding, ultimately forging stronger connections and building more harmonious communities. Over!

  21. OK…
    Since we have two ears and hopefully only one audio transmitter in our bodies it seems prudent to give the ears more time to collect and process the info (sorting the wheat from the chaff) prior to blanketing the frequency with mostly unnecessary verbiage that tends to diminish situational awareness instead of enhancing it.

  22. This seems to upset some people, so I am proposing a painless solution, which can be quickly implemented.
    Just fit aircraft with motorcar indicators, so pilots can let others know when they are about to turn with a simple click of a stalk. Good for the environment because it saves radio waves.
    Some aircraft already have landing lights, make them compulsory for all too so you can flash them at aircraft which get in your way and let them know you are cross.

  23. In decades of flying I’ve encountered several situations where I was lucky to have survived near-misses occasioned by those who did NOT use the recommended radio calls. Three of those were caused by “pilots” who turned out to have the same flippant attitude as the author and his followers here. You know the type – old timers who fancy themselves as been-there, done-everything know-it-alls who think they are above the rest of us. Well, I’m an old timer, too, a former pro pilot, and a former test pilot, so I suppose that evens things enough if cred is somehow required to earn a respectful ear while stating the obvious: The “recommended” procedures are recommended for a reason. How do you miss that? Doing less imperils everyone (including those who are trying to survive you being in the air).

    The attempt to distract with a proffered artificial duality of using the radio versus looking out the window for traffic is spurious, ridiculous, and nothing more than an excuse to cover laziness or lack of flying competency. And have such opinionated people bothered to look at the published diagrams depicting the very large blind spots, and the rapid change from speck to collision? Do you think you “superior” people have X-Ray vision through your aircraft’s blind spots so that you shouldn’t be bothered to back it up with radio calls? Take a look at the accident reports. They involve people who either thought like you, or were victims of those who thought like you. Another false choice made is that too-long callouts by some therefore somehow justify not using the “recommended” callouts at all. Further, hiding behind it being a legal option to not engage in a safer practice is sad, too.

    It isn’t even as optional as the author stated. In AC No: 90-66B, “Non-Towered Airport Flight Operations” (Date: 3/13/18), Section 10.1, the word “should” is used. Nitpickers will argue “should” versus “shall” but those arguments will lose in a liability case in court if you injure or kill someone with your negligence in not following what you snidely dismiss as merely “recommended” safety procedures. Section 10.1.1 then spells out what the FAA deems “essential” radio callouts and procedures (try arguing against that additional burden to your/your estate’s losing case in court should another one of you cause me to perform aerobatics again due to the deadly hazard you create with your non-use of “essential” procedures the FAA says you “should” use). It’s simple – just do it (and those who are too wordy on the radio just read it to fix your technique), and we’ll all be better off if those two groups will learn how to fly. Such people willfully not using the radio are reducing safety at non-towered airports – which are, statistically, the most likely place to have a midair (so, duh, non-towered airports are therefore the most important place to make callouts) and not doing so is as irresponsible as it is stupid. Writing flippant articles influencing others to do as you do is also irresponsible.

    As for the argument that using the recommended radio calls overtaxes you or your students and impinges upon your ability to operate an airplane, then you obviously don’t have the skills to be a pilot. And if you don’t have your students do what the FAA says is “essential” “to achieve the greatest degree of safety” (Section 10.1.1) then you obviously shouldn’t be flight instructing, either. Or influencing others, here or anywhere else (is that what you promulgated at the AOPA CFI and type club seminars?). As you said yourself here in February (“CEO Of The Cockpit: Retired But Not Expired”), “Every airport has an old “crank” who flaunts every safety and logical rule yet still survives.” Don’t be that guy (right up to the time you kill innocent other people).